Safe roller operation for civil contractors

Like all heavy machinery, vibratory rollers can be dangerous and there are some situations that an operator should be mindful of to complete a job safely.

Whether you’re using a smooth drum or padfoot roller, all are big, heavy machines, and they present a high possibility for crushing injuries if not used correctly.

This could be due to rollovers, collisions, running over an object, or a worker being crushed in the articulation.

Like any piece of equipment you use on site, it should come with complete maintenance and safety records, and all equipment operators should be site inducted, be competent in operating the roller, and familiar with the SWMS.

Be aware of articulation

Unlike a car that has a rigid body, most rollers articulate in the middle, changing the position of both the front and rear of the machine in a bending motion.

When a machine bends or articulates, it creates an unsafe area called a crush zone. A person who has any part of their body within a crush zone could be seriously injured, so all workers should have a keen awareness of this dangerous area.

Also, when a roller is lifted by a crane without the articulation locked on, it can articulate like a flapping fish. Lock out bars should be applied to prevent this from happening and hold the machine rigid whilst it is being lifted or transported.

Working safely on slopes

When a roller articulates, a transfer of weight occurs throughout the machine. If you’re working on a batter or verge, this transfer of weight could cause the roller to lose balance and roll out of control down the hill.

Rollers should only travel up and down hills or embankments ‘drum first’. Vibrating across a slope, rather than in an up and down motion, significantly increases the chance of a rollover.

This is due to the loss of ground contact when the roller is being operated: as it vibrates, the drum raises up and down and reduces contact with the ground. This in turn reduces traction, and you will find the drum moving and finding its way to the bottom of the slope.

If you are working on a verge or embankment, be aware that the vibrating motion on the edge of a hill could cause the edge to give way, and the roller to roll sideways down the hill. The risk of this can be magnified by the articulation and transfer of weight mentioned above.

Avoiding collisions

Where possible, the roller operator should always face the direction of travel. Safety features such as mirrors and reverse cameras on some compaction equipment can help to reduce the chance of collisions, but they don’t take the place of general site awareness. Operators need to pay attention at all times to ensure their workmates are safe.

Safety features of rollers

Most rollers are fitted with safety features such as emergency stop buttons (typically one in the cab and one located on the exterior of the machine), a travel alarm (squawkers or beeping alarms), a fire extinguisher and a flashing beacon on top of the cab. A lockout bar for preventing articulation during lifting or transit is also an important safety feature.

All compaction equipment available from Orange Hire comes with either a Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS) or a Falling Over Protective Structure (FOPS) cab/canopy. This protective shell or cage is designed to protect the operator in the event of the roller tipping over. Remote-controlled trench rollers don’t require an operator so they don’t have a ROPS or FOPS.

Other safety features found on compaction equipment include lockable battery isolators, safety decals and fluorescent or reflective tape, rearview mirrors and the horn.

Hire a roller from the team that puts safety first

Orange Hire is here to support our civil, construction and infrastructure customers in creating the safest workplace possible. For this reason, we offer optional safety features on request for some rollers, such as reversing cameras, first aid kits, UHF radios and call sign decals.

If you need particular safety specifications on your hire equipment, get in touch with our team and we’ll talk you through the available options. Or, take a look at our regular range of rollers for hire in NSW, QLD and VIC.

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